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European Commission Green Paper: On Retail Financial Services and Insurance

The European Commission launched its consultation on retail financial services on 10 December 2015, with the aim of improving choice, transparency and competition as part of a more integrated market.

The consultation seeks to explore concerns that the structure of the retail market still largely operates on a national basis and that barriers exist which prevent:

  • consumers from accessing financial products from other EU Member States and from transferring them if they move from one EU Member State to another (the so called ‘portability’); and
  • businesses from selling financial products and services across borders.

The Commission believes that a better integrated Single Market for retail financial and insurance products will being greater product choice, better value for money and more competitive prices for consumers. It would also lead to more opportunities for firms to market and sell their products on a larger scale and at lower costs.

The Green Paper covers the markets for insurance, loans, payments, current and savings accounts and other retail investments. It considers and seeks feedback on issues including:

  • whether innovative digital technology can assist in removing barriers to cross-border trade;
  • whether further action is necessary to encourage comparability and/or switching providers located either in the same or another Member State;
  • what can be done at the EU level to facilitate the portability of retail financial products (e.g. life insurance and private health insurance); and
  • how the EU can support to provide innovative digital financial services, with appropriate levels of security and consumer protection.

The consultation will last for three months until 18 March 2016 to respond. A conference is proposed to be held in early 2016. The conference will be followed by an Action Plan on Retail Financial Services later in 2016.’

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